Around 60 per cent of newborns will develop jaundice two to three days after birth. It usually passes within one to two weeks.
It’s commonly known as ‘physiological jaundice’ to distinguish it from the rare, more serious forms.
Symptoms include a yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes, and these should be reported to your midwife or GP.
It’s due to a build-up of bilirubin, a substance produced during the normal breakdown of old red blood cells. A newborn’s immature liver may not be able to process bilirubin fast enough so it’s deposited in the skin, causing the yellow colour.
Physiological jaundice is generally harmless and usually clears by itself. However, a few babies need to have ‘phototherapy’, which involves them lying naked under a special lamp for a day or two, with eye protection.